Field may be 'In Trouble' in G2 Futurity
By Phil Janack | 09/27/2013 03:15 PM ET
After sneaking up on the competition in his unveiling last month, In Trouble will have no such luxury when he returns as the morning-line favorite for the 124th running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Futurity on Sunday at Belmont Park.
Trained by Tony Dutrow for owner Team D, the bay juvenile son of Tiz Wonderful is the 5-2 top choice in a field of six 2-year-olds that includes graded stakes winners Corfu and Wired Bryan.
In Trouble stretches out to six furlongs for the Futurity after a three-quarter length victory in his lone start, a 5 ½-furlong sprint on the main track on August 10 at Saratoga Race Course, where he was sent off at odds of 7-1.
"He was really good the first time. I felt good about taking him to Saratoga and running him," said Dutrow. "I named him In Trouble because I had worked him with a 3-year-old and he went really, really good. Walking back to the barn, I said to myself, 'I don't know who's in there, but whoever it is, they're going to be in trouble that day.'"
Under jockey Joe Rocco Jr., who will be back aboard in the Futurity from post 1, In Trouble hit the wire in 1:03.86 in his debut, beating a pair of next-out winners in Sound of Freedom and Tiznowforamerica. Sound of Freedom is one of two Todd Pletcher-trained horses entered in the Futurity.
"[In Trouble] surprised me, because he was so professional that day he ran," said Dutrow, who won the 2000 Futurity with Burning Roma. "He walked through all those people to the paddock, let me saddle him, went onto the track, loaded in the gate, broke well, sat behind horses and responded when asked. He never turned a hair and acted like he'd been doing it his whole life."
Pletcher has two Futurity wins to his credit, with King of the Roxy in 2006 and Overanalyze last year. Corfu, the second program choice at 3-1, made his first three starts this summer at Saratoga, winning his debut on July 25 and coming back 17 days later to take the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, both in gate-to-wire fashion.
In his most recent start, the Malibu Moon colt was on the lead again before giving way and finishing ninth of 10, beaten 16 ½ lengths by Strong Mandate in the Grade 1 Hopeful, which was run over a muddy, sealed main track.
"I think [the wet track] did have a little something to do with it, which was a little bit frustrating because we'd actually breezed him on a little bit of an off track on the Oklahoma [training track] prior to that and he seemed to handle it well," Pletcher said. "He never looked truly comfortable in the Hopeful and, even though he was on the lead, he didn't seem like he was doing it as easy as he normally does.
"[Strong Mandate] ran an unbelievable race that day, and the rest of the field didn't. You've got to [chalk] a lot of that up to the racetrack. He's trained well since then so we'll just regroup and try again. His first two starts were very good, so we'll hope he runs back to one of those."
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will ride Corfu from post 3.
Corfu's stablemate, Sound of Freedom, was caught late by In Trouble in his debut then came back to lead all the way in breaking his maiden on September 2 at Saratoga at the Futurity's six-furlong distance.
"He actually ran well over the wet track, and his first start was good even though he didn't win," said Pletcher."He's come back and trained well, so it's a logical step for him. At this stage, you have pretty limited options. There aren't many allowance races around, so you're kind of giving up a little bit of experience to some horses but having two races under his belt should help."
Current meet-leading rider Javier Castellano and Sound of Freedom, 6-1, will depart from post 2.
New York-bred Wired Bryan, trained by former Pletcher assistant Michael Dilger, won the Grade 2 Sanford in his second career start on July 21 at Saratoga, then finished second by a nose in the Saratoga Special and a tiring fifth in the Hopeful. He is cross-entered in the New York Breeders' Futurity on Saturday at Finger Lakes.
"It was a very tiring track [in the Hopeful]," said Dilger."The horses that weren't on the pace finished the best. [Jockey] Shaun [Bridgmohan] came back after the race and said he hated the track. He's doing very well. I'm very happy with him."
Luis Saez is named to ride Wired Bryan, 7-2, who drew outside post 6.
Big Sugar Soda rallied after being bumped at the break to pass tiring horses and finish fourth in the Hopeful. Trained by Steve Asmussen for owners Kirk and Judy Robison, the Ready's Image colt was impressive in breaking his maiden on July 22 at Saratoga, drawing off to win by 8 ¼ lengths in 1:03.59 for 5 ½ furlongs.
In his maiden win, Big Sugar Soda not only earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 94, third-fastest by a 2-year-old this year, but beat subsequent Grade 1 Hopeful winner Strong Mandate.
"I think you have to draw a line through [the Hopeful]," said Toby Sheets, Asmussen's Belmont-based assistant. "He has trained exceptionally here. They were high on him right from the beginning, from the way he performs and the way he runs. I think he's going to run a good race."
Jose Lezcano will be aboard Big Sugar Soda, 4-1, from post 5.
Rounding out the Futurity field is Financial Mogul, who ran fourth in Big Sugar Soda's maiden victory race. In his next start, the son of Street Boss came wide from off the pace to win by 5 ½ lengths in 1:24.20 for seven furlongs in a race originally carded for the turf.
"I was disappointed in his first start, but that's come up a super race if you look at the horses that have come out of there," trainer Rick Violette said. "He probably ran a little green, and he was better off for it in his next start. We hope he moves up another notch in here. I think he'll be pretty effective in this spot."
The field for the Grade 2, $200,000 Futurity: